I was not expecting Pompeii to be so beautiful. It was. We visited on a bright sunny day in
May. Poppies bloomed everywhere. It seems poppy season in Italy is May and they were in abundance at Pompeii. I was expecting a heavy, awed, and sad experience because Pompeii is a ruin.
I was very aware the people who lived there were surprised by Vesuvius’ eruption, and they died in Pompeii. I was thinking death and tragedy, not sunshine and poppies. Ruin or not, Pompeii is a pretty place and there is a lot to see. There are remnants of walls, doorways, floors, fountains, stairs, and statues. There are streets with gutters.
Did you know the Romans invented concrete? Ancient pieces of formed concrete and stone are sprinkled about. The most interesting to me, were the remnants of indoor plumbing. Clay pipes are visible in some of the walls and streets. They had running water!
The view of the surrounding countryside is lovely. Smokey purple colored mountains, one of which is Vesuvius, and green peaceful vistas surround. It feels mysterious. Perhaps because we know about the tragic disaster that occurred here, Pompeii's quiet beauty makes it romantic.
The whole place was fascinating, so I’m sorry to admit that I have regrets associated with my visit to Pompeii. I did not investigate and plan our quick trip well enough. Pompeii is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but it was on the way to our Airbnb on the Amalfi coast, so we took a quick stop there.
We planned two hours to grab some lunch and see what we could of the ruins. This was a mistake. We should have allotted more time. After a quick pizza at a “tourist trap” restaurant across from the entrance to Pompeii, we had about an hour to see the site. By the way, this was the best pizza I had in Italy, and since I love pizza, I tried to eat pizza every day.
We did not have enough time to thoroughly explore the site, nor have enough onsite information. This was a mistake that could have been easily alleviated with little planning or forethought. There are tour guides waiting outside of many of the historic sites in Italy offering on the spot tours. I wish I had allowed one of these “pop-up” guides show me around. For about the same price we that paid for lunch, we could have had a more informed and richer experience by allowing one of these guides to show us around and explain what we were looking at.
Even with a guide, I would have needed more time. I knew it was a ruin, but I did not know how much restoration has been done. The restoration allows you to see what it was probably like to live in this place that was modern and prosperous at the time of the eruption. You can see houses and in some cases rooms with some intact flooring, fire places, door thresholds and stairs. There is a small but very well-done museum that I all but ran through.
I am really glad I got to see Pompeii, but I wish I had more time.